When many people think of river cruises, they automatically picture the waterways of Europe. While the vast majority of river cruises visit some of Europe’s most fascinating locales, there’s a world of river cruises that are available around the world, and perhaps none are more exotic than those that explore Asia. One such voyage is on our own personal “must-cruise” list: Viking River Cruises’ 12-night Imperial Jewels of China itinerary.
Operating between Beijing and Shanghai (or reverse) aboard Viking Emerald, Viking’s Imperial Jewels of China is a land and river cruise tour featuring some of China’s most important cities and sights. Numerous departure dates are offered between March and November of 2012. If you have a specific timeframe when you can cruise, it’s best to book now; we noticed some departures, like the April 5, 2012 sailing, are almost entirely sold out.
Your journey begins in Beijing in the heart of China, where you spend three days soaking up all this ancient city has to offer, topped with a visit to the spellbinding marvel that is the Great Wall of China. Built in the 5th Century as a way to ward off invading nomadic forces, the Great Wall now spans 5,500 miles or 8,851 kilometers. That’s equal to the distance between Los Angeles and New York City – twice.
You’ll also visit the legendary Terra Cotta Army in Xian. Discovered in 1974, more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses were buried with Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, in 210 BC in order to protect him in the afterlife.
Aboard Viking Emerald, one of the main highlights as you sail along the Yangtze is surely the transit of the Three Gorges and the Three Gorges Dam. A remarkable technological feat, the transit crosses five-stage locks, and you will see it in operation first-hand during a fully guided tour.
The full itinerary on this itinerary:
|1||Beijing||Arrive in Beijing and check into your hotel; free time.|
|2||Beijing||Visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City|
|3||Beijing||Visit part of The Great Wall of China|
|4||Beijing & Xian||Tour Beijing via rickshaw and fly to Xian in the afternoon to explore this great city.|
|5||Xian & Chongqing||Tour the Terra Cotta Warriors before flying to Chongqing to board the beautiful Viking Emerald. Set sail in the evening.|
|6||Shibaozhai||Visit a 12-story temple built along the Yangtze in 1650 before continuing your cruise in the afternoon and evening.|
|7||Three Gorges & Lesser Three Gorges||Traverse the Yangtze for 150 miles through the Three Gorges. In the evening, transit the five-stage locks of the Three Gorges Dam.|
|8||Three Gorges Dam & Three Gorges||Tour the Three Gorges Dam in the morning, before sailing through Xiling Gorge, the largest of the Three Gorges.|
|9||Jingzhou||Embrace the opportunity to visit an elementary school sponsored by Viking River Cruises!|
|10||Wuhan & Shanghai||Disembark in Wuhan before flying to Shanghai.|
|11||Shanghai||Visit Old Shanghai for a look at this fascinating city. In the afternoon, tour the Yuyuan Gardens.|
|12||Shanghai||Your Asian adventure draws to a close this morning as you transfer to the airport for your flight home.|
Few itineraries offer the kind of discoveries that this itinerary does, and all in under two weeks’ time. This is one River Cruise of the Week you surely don’t want to miss.
For all the details on this voyage, check out the full departure details on the Viking River Cruises site, and be sure to view our complete Viking River Cruises and Viking Emerald profiles right here on River Cruise Advisor.